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Cheating the Cheaters: Spatial Dynamics in the Evolutionary Stability of Antibiotic Resistance

Infections caused by antibiotic–resistant bacteria are posed to be one of the most pressing health
concerns of the twenty–first century. A common mechanism of resistance involves production of
an antibiotic–degrading enzyme. In this case, neighboring, nonproducer bacteria can “cheat” by
sharing the benefits of resistance while the metabolic cost of enzyme production falls solely on
producer cells. The objective of this work is to explore how the spatial population dynamics of
producers and nonproducer maintain the resistance found in biofilms. A three–dimensional spatial
model was used to simulate growth of both producers and nonproducer under antibiotics with
different characteristics. Standard antibiotics resulted in a heterogeneous populations with stable,
homogeneous community structure. The population of resistant bacteria was most sensitive to
altering the fitness cost of enzyme production. These results could suggest novel antibacterial
treatments in order to create therapies less likely to favor the evolution of resistance.

 

Article Number: MTBI-14-01M

Year:2017

Authors: 

Devin Akman - University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

LeMar Callaway III - Virginia Wesleyan College

Pablo Cárdenas - Universidad de Los Andes

Joshua Nieve–Silva - Montclair State University 

Jun Chen - Arizona State University

Baltazar Espinoza - Arizona State University 

Leon Arriola - University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Carlos Castillo-Garzow - Eastern Washington University 

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